Energy and Economic Evaluation of the Production of Biogas from Anaerobic and Aerobic Sludge in Brazil


This study conducted energy and economic analysis for biogas production from an Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) and activated sludge from the Copasa and Fânia® Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP), both of which are located in the city of Itajubá, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The methodology adopted for the research study included Physicochemical laboratory analyses of sludge samples. Furthermore, an experimental prototype of a sludge anaerobic digester (AD) that measured the characteristics of biogas and methane discharge was constructed and monitored. Lastly, economic viability analysis for using biogas energy was studied. The results show that the substrate, following processing using an AD, had reductions in all of the physiochemical parameters evaluated. Furthermore, CH4 yield in relation to volatile solids (VS) was 0.0046 Nm3CH4/kgSV (4.6 Nm3CH4/tSV), 32.89% VS for UASB sludge, 0.0019 Nm3CH4/kgSV (1.9 Nm3CH4/tSV), and 50.45% VS for activated sludge. UASB sludge samples had the best results, which were 1014.46 kWh/year of electrical energy generated at the Copasa WWTP. Economic feasibility analysis considered a project lifespan of 15 years for continuous power generation. The results showed a NPV of negative USD$-226,255.28, a LCOE of 1.40 USD/kWh, and an unfeasible Internal Rate of Return (IRR).

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The authors would like to thank the Brazilian National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPq; the acronym in English), for the research Grant given to Prof. Regina Mambeli Barros (PQ2, Process Number: 303805/2018-8 and 301986/2015-0), and Prof. Electo Eduardo Silva Lora. We would also like to thank the Brazilian Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, Capes; the acronym in English) for granting the Master of Science scholarship to Susan J. B. Cañotes, Hellen Luisa de Castro e Silva, and the doctorate scholarship to Ivan Felipe da Silva dos Santos. We would like to thank the Minas Gerais State Agency for Research and Development (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais, FAPEMIG, in Portuguese) for granting financial support (Project PROCESS N.: TEC - APQ-03080-18 “Study of the potential of Greenhouse Gases mitigation prognostic in the state of Minas Gerais by the electric energy generation by biogas from anaerobic digestion of organic fraction of urban solid waste and wastewater treatment plant sludge”).

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Cañote, S.J.B., Barros, R.M., Lora, E.E.S. et al. Energy and Economic Evaluation of the Production of Biogas from Anaerobic and Aerobic Sludge in Brazil. Waste Biomass Valor 12, 947–969 (2021).

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  • Biogas
  • Activated sludge
  • Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket
  • Economic viability
  • Renewable energy